The Rooibos sector innovates amid demand for plant-based diet

Consumer demand for plant-based products was already a thing pre Covid, but a refocus of priorities has played further into the continued growth of this ever evolving movement, which bodes well for the South African grown Rooibos tea in particular as it continues to be as more innovative as it's popular.

A picture with a cup of rooibos tea
Tea is clearly big business, and so is the South Africa's indigenous Rooibos tea.

Tea clearly is big business, and so is the South African indigenous Rooibos tea. After water, tea is said to be the most-consumed drink worldwide – with roughly 25,000 cups of tea consumed every second, and about 2.16 billion cups per day.

Nicie Vorster, director of the SA Rooibos Council (SARC) says the world of tea is becoming more exciting than ever before. But perhaps the most interesting shift for tea lovers is the growing consumer demand for more natural ingredients in their quest to stay healthy during Covid-19 pandemic.

“With thousands of varieties to choose from, tea has become just as diverse as the world’s cultures, each with its own origin, aroma, taste profile and personality.

“It’s no longer about drinking pots of tea, but rather about choosing an individual cup of high-quality tea that offers an authentic and unique experience. Health and well-being remain core drivers, particularly during the pandemic.”

With earthy flavours, Rooibos has become one of the most appreciated teas of late.

For those looking for variety, black teas with unique taste profiles, green teas, fruit and herbal tisanes, and ready-to-drink teas (RTDs) are some of the popular alternatives. Overall, the most notable change “is a shift in favour of herbal infusions,” he adds. 

In addition to Rooibos being a healthy alternative to regular tea, it is becoming a discerning drink in its own right, especially among those looking for naturally-friendly alternatives “with earthy flavours, making Rooibos one of the most appreciated teas of late,” Vorster says.

SA-born tea sommelier, Jessica Bonin, who has lent her tea brewing skills to the likes of China, Japan and South Korea, says the Rooibos industry has done well to incorporate other nutritional ingredients such as turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and rosehip to its base. “Another clever move was to combine it with other fynbos species like Buchu and Honeybush to boost its appeal among health-conscious tea drinkers.”

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